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California foreclosures drop in January

California foreclosure filings fell 39.54 percent in January from December and 64.93 percent from January 2012, according to RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for January 2013.

Foreclosure filings -- default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- were reported on 18,093 California properties in January.

The report also shows one in every 753 housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.

“The U.S. foreclosure landscape in January was profoundly altered by the effects of new legislation that took effect in California on the first of the year,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“Dubbed the Homeowners Bill of Rights, this legislation extends many of the principles in the national mortgage settlement -- including a prohibition on so-called dual tracking and requiring a single point of contact for borrowers facing foreclosure -- to all mortgage servicers operating in California.

In addition the new law imposes fines of up to $7,500 per loan for filing of multiple unverified foreclosure documents.

As a result, the downward foreclosure trend in California accelerated into hyper speed in January, decisively shifting the balance of power when it comes to the nation’s foreclosure activity.

Florida posted the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate for the fifth month in a row in January, and also had the highest number of properties with foreclosure filings for the month, marking the first month since January 2007 that California has not had the highest number of properties with foreclosure filings.

A national decrease in foreclosure starts was caused in large part by a sharp drop in California notices of default (NOD) in January, down 62 percent from December and down 75 percent from January 2012 to the lowest level since October 2005.

U.S. foreclosure starts were down 11 percent from the previous month and down 28 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since June 2006 -- a 79-month low.

Nationwide, foreclosure filings were reported on 150,864 U.S. properties in January, a decrease of 7 percent from the previous month and down 28 percent from January 2012.

The report also shows one in every 869 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.

U.S. bank repossessions (REO) decreased 5 percent from the previous month and were down 24 percent from January 2012 to the lowest level since February 2008.

Statewide, REOs fell 9.37 percent from December and 40.63 percent from January 2012.

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